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Verdi Aida & Puccini Turandot

Decca 074 3427 Aida

These two HD blu-ray Met Opera spectaculars were received for review together, both well produced on blu-ray DVDs and with good sound.

We rather soon gave up on the Aida because of the wooden acting and singing which failed to engage us. The production is inescapably redolent of Cecil B de Mille blockbusters, with crowd scenes that soon palled with repetition.

Go, instead, for the stupendous
Open-Air Production from St. Margarethen Festival:-



EuroArts 2054059


Eszter Sümegi · Kostadin Andreev · Cornelia Helfricht
Pier Dalas · Janusz Monarcha
Chorus, Corps de Ballet & Orchestra of the National Theatre Brno/Ernst Märzendorfer
Directed for Stage by Robert Herzl; for TV by Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher



Puccini Turandot

Guleghina, Anthony, Ramey, Giordani/Porretta/Licitra/Webb, Poplavskaya/
Kovalevska/Doronzio, Hopkins, Stevenson, Valdes, Miller
(c) Nelsons (d) Zeffirelli

Metropolitan Opera, NewYork 2009

Decca 074 3427

The Turandot from The Met was far more engaging than the Aida revival, but Turandot always has difficulties, those pronounced here, so that neither of these DVDs gets a clear purchase recommendation.

Turandot was revived in a historic Zeffirelli production which is intriguing from the dark start, and the first Act was gripping.

Marcello Giordano [L] had the stamina for Calaf and, more importantly, beautiful timbre and easy delivery which he sustained throughout. Hear him in Nessun Dorma.

But earlier the scene had been stolen by Liu and the three jokey court assistants, P, P & P, who were given to free movement which enhanced their impact, both as comedians and as warnings about the savage Emperor's Court and nostalgia for the villaage life they'd left for ever..

Doubts began with Act 2, but mostly on account of Puccini rather than the production.

Turandot demands a great dramatic soprano at the top of her game; in my young days Eva Turner had something of a monopoly of the role. Click on her name; that recording shows why.

Maria Guleghina sings powerfully but steps out into the main stage, diminshing her frigid remoteness which seems to motivate the whole tale. And really the scene of the riddles is - dare I say - rather boring and seems over long for its quite simple content, nor does it lead to her becoming a convincing lover after she's conquered (Puccini, of course, never completed the final Act, which was done by Alfano.) By the end I was feeling that I didn't need to hear it again for a long time or ever, but we do have a soft spot for the film made at the Forbidden City of Beijing; in all our several versions the Calafs equit themselves well and the Turandots - dont...

Peter Grahame Woolf